The number of crimes committed in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia was lower in 2011 than in 2010 while spring 2012 was seeing an increase in burglaries in the country’s villages, according to separate reports on March 27.
Going by statistics for Sofia’s nine police districts, the murder rate in the city – which, according to the February 2011 census, has a population of about 1.2 million – hardly comes close to the body count in an average episode of Midsomer Murders.
In 2010, there were 16 murders in Sofia, and in 2011 there were 13.
The sixth police district, covering Studentski Grad and Mladost, reported six murders in 2010 but in 2011 there were none. In the fourth police district, both years saw no murders.
Armed robberies added up to 94 in 2010 and 79 in 2011. Most took place in the Lozenets, Ivan Vazov and Strelbishte areas.
Overall, according to Dnevnik, which requested the statistics from the Interior Ministry, the highest crime rate was in the sixth police district, which covers Borovo, Krasno Selo and Buxton. In this district, there were 2319 thefts in 2011 and 2132 in 2010.
The lowest crime rate was in the eighth district, which in 2011 reported 1140 thefts, three armed robberies and a murder.
In all, the number of thefts reported in Sofia was 17 318 in 2010 and 16 222 in 2011.
On March 27, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television said that with the coming of spring, the problem of theft of property in villages again had become topical.
Worst-hit were property and houses in smaller villages where houses were not permanently occupied by their owners.
In some places, thieves had been busy during the winter. In the village of Stratsimir in the Silistra area, a dozen buildings in the main street had been robbed several times, according to the report.
Popular items were copper wiring and various other forms of metal objects, stolen to be sold as scrap.
Village resident Stefan Ivanov said that one house had been robbed four times in the past few years, even though the owners slept in it every night.
The report said that many thefts never got to court because prosecutors halted proceedings because of the low value of the goods stolen.
In 2011, residents of Stratsimir and surrounding villages had lodged 324 complaints of theft but according to the annual police report, officially recorded thefts added up to only 18.
The report said that police advised that people should not admit strangers to their houses, should lock their yards and should install surveillance cameras at the entrances to their villages.
Nikolai Nikolov, a police inspector in Silistra, said that such purely preventative measures would help reduce thefts and assist in finding the perpetrators.
People in the village were considering forming a volunteer force to protect their properties, the report said.